Man! I’ve only been in the “medical machine” for about two weeks, and already I feel like my blood pressure has risen several points. It’s like you enter as yourself and, as you get poked and prodded and ignored and ignored some more, you can feel yourself shrinking into some pale, insignificant medical commodity. It’s not a good feeling…
Anyway, in my short time dealing with all these medical issues, I’ve already learned some lessons.
1) I think someone could actually DIE in the waiting room and nobody would notice. The practice I go to serves many doctors and thus has a huge waiting room full of sick people. When I went to see my doctor last Monday, I arrived at 10:50 for an 11:00 appointment. Time passed and nurses came out and called various people until all of the people who came in with me had been called. I began to feel like the little kid in grade school that has B.O. Time passed and still I waited. Finally, at 11:30, I got up to check with the women at the desk and at that moment, a nurse (or medical assistant) came out and called my name. Considering I hadn’t been feeling too chipper when I arrived, you can imagine how I felt by this time!
2) You could die in the patient room, too! Once they pop you in there, you’re out of sight, out of mind. They just want to give you the illusion that you’re progressing. Again I sat and waited. I heard doctors on both sides of me come and go. And still I waited. And felt ignored. For THIRTY LONG MINUTES! In case you weren’t counting, by then I had been there over an hour without seeing a doctor. That doesn’t exactly make you feel special, let me tell you!
3) Not all nurses are “angels of mercy.” I don’t know if the woman who works for my doctor is a nurse or medical assistant, but I do know that I’ve never seen her smile. When she calls you from the waiting room, she doesn’t greet you or make chit-chat. It’s like she has this gigantic chip on her shoulder and she’s just waiting for you to knock it off. Lovely. You’re already feeling bad and she makes it worse. I always feel like I should be apologizing for putting her to so much trouble.
4) Beware of leaving voice mail messages! You’re often told to call the office for something and the switchboard directs your call to a certain department. If a human being doesn’t answer, you’re doomed. I called one department three times in two days and left messages which never got answered. Do they think they we do this for fun? When you’re having health problems, being ignored makes you feel so alone and helpless.
5) No matter how grave or important the news, you’ll get it from a nurse. The days of Marcus Welby, the old beloved family doctor who really cared, are D-E-A-D. It’s “Hello, this is Dr. X’s office calling, he wants you to get your head amputated in the morning.” Or in my case, “Yes, Dr. H would like you to get a head and orbits MRI as soon as possible.” And, on Tuesday, “This is Dr. M’s office. We got your thyroid blood tests back and you DO have Graves’ Disease. Congratulations!” (Okay, she didn’t say congratulations, but she didn’t sound too sorry, either.) Then she went on to say he wanted me to see an endocrinologist and was calling in a prescription. What? Why? How? I got no details, no explanations. I feel just like a little lab guinea pig. And the human touch? Forget about it!
6) I guess the overriding lesson I’m learning is that most of these people don’t really care about me as a person. They’re just doing their job and I’m just a piece of meat they have to process and move on down the line.
Do I sound a bit depressed? Duh. I’m more than just a piece of meat. I’m a sweet, funny person who deserves better! Or at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.